June 12, 2017 / 11:59 AM / 2 months ago

China to speed up closing small-scale coal mines to improve safety

BEIJING, June 12 (Reuters) - China will speed up the closure of small-scale coal mines and strengthen inspections on safer production over the next three years, a government plan released on Monday showed.

Beijing will accelerate closing small-scale coal mines with an annual production capacity of 90,000 tonnes or less, as part of its plan to improve mine safety, according to the 13th five-year plan on the production safety of coal mines, jointly issued by China's State Administration of Work Safety and State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.

China will reduce the death toll in coal mine accidents by more than 15 percent by 2020, according to the plan.

Major coal mines accidents will be effectively controlled by 2020, the document said.

There were 9,598 coal mines in China at end-2015 and 45.5 percent of them were small-scale. With poor safety conditions and equipment, most of the mines were vulnerable to disasters, the document said.

A series of accidents have occurred in the past at coal mines in major production hubs in China, causing fatalities.

China's coal output rose to 3.75 billion tonnes in 2015, from 3.24 billion tonnes in 2010. The death toll from coal mine accidents dropped 75.4 percent to 598 during the same five-year period, according to the document.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Beijing Monitoring Desk, editing by David Evans

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